Date of Award

Spring 6-8-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Don Halquist

Second Advisor

Sue Robb

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore how living in poverty or low income households affects the brains and therefore academic achievement of students, and also to explore effective teaching strategies that address the specific needs of these students. Through an extensive literature review of current, existing research and in-depth data collection of a middle school in Western New York, this researcher was able to find that students living in poverty or low income housing are more at risk for chronic and acute stress, cognitive brain effects, social and emotional effects (including behavior concerns), health and safety issues, and academic underachievement, as per New York State Assessment data. The findings suggest that children living in poverty or low income households benefit from engaging learning that involves their interests and movement, making learning meaningful and relevant. The findings also suggest that students living in poverty benefit from intense, frequent vocabulary instruction to increase language acquisition and close language gaps that begin prior to entering kindergarten. Furthermore, building positive relationships with these students can increase social emotional skills, motivation, and engagement in school.

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